Student Action presidential candidate Will Morrow hopes to represent diverse perspectives across party lines

Will Marrow
Rachael Garner/Senior Staff

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Editor’s note: This is one installment in a five-part series on this year’s candidates for ASUC president. Read about the other candidates here.

Some people simply call him Will or William, yet others still call him “Spilly Willy” in reference to a particularly embarrassing moment in his past involving him, a pizza, a crowded lunchroom and his untied shoelaces.

Now, his face and name are plastered across campus, and he walks down Sproul Plaza, greeting students as he campaigns to be the next ASUC president, despite his embarrassing lunchroom incident.

A self-described “Minnesota nice boy,” Morrow — campus junior, ASUC senator and this year’s Student Action presidential candidate — is a people person.

“I really believe in that, all that, you know, excessive manners that my mom drilled into me as a kid — all the etiquette of conversation,” Morrow said. “You always give a smile, doesn’t matter who it is — random stranger or best friend. Even an enemy, you give a smile.”

Before coming to UC Berkeley, Morrow lived in St. Louis Park — a municipality just outside of Minneapolis.

Morrow is a sucker for Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, and once, when he was 5 years old, he had to be escorted out of a movie theater screening “My Dog Skip” because he was crying too loudly.

In high school, he was heavily involved in student government, and at the end of his senior year, he chose to trade the cold Minnesota weather for the warm California sun because he loved UC Berkeley’s distinct public character.

Morrow made an active effort not to get involved in ASUC in his freshman year precisely because he had been so immersed in student government in high school.

According to him, however, every organization he got involved with on campus — from the UC Rally Committee, to his fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, to the Berkeley Project — somehow drew him back into student government.

In his sophomore year at UC Berkeley, after failing to be slated as a SQUELCH! senatorial candidate, he was encouraged to run for the Student Action slate – and won.

As a Student Action senator, Morrow is most proud of his work on significantly improving the Student Health Insurance Plan waiver process in collaboration with SQUELCH! Senator Zoe Brouns and the Graduate Assembly.

He worked to improve the process particularly for students on financial aid or who qualified for Obamacare, as well as to reinstate dependent coverage and add benefits for transgender students.

Morrow said that in senate, he consistently works to bridge party lines.

“I realized this issue (SHIP) was more important than for it to be stuck up in a partisan issue — this was not a partisan issue, this was a student issue,” Morrow said, regarding his decision to collaborate with a senator from another party.

Morrow grew up in a close-knit family and lived in the same house for most of his life. His mother, he said, was the person who taught him that every person has a story to tell.

“That’s something that has helped me become acclimated to Berkeley,” Morrow said.

He wants to be able to represent diverse perspectives and students across party lines.

“I have a responsibility not just to the political persuasions of Will Morrow — I actually have a much more important responsibility to the political persuasions of the students of the University of California,” Morrow said.

Morrow currently serves as chair of the ASUC Governance and Internal Affairs Committee, which he says is diverse, composed of senators from multiple parties. All of the work the committee has accomplished required him, as chair, to take his role out of a partisan lens.

“He’s able to be in a position of privilege but also able to take a step back and listen,” Brouns said.

ASUC Senator Cuahuctemoc Salinas explained that as an independent senator, he has often felt alone in student government but that Morrow made him feel welcome.

“I’m not running as an individual — I’m not running for my individual ideas or for individual fame or glory or whatever,” Morrow said. “I’m running because I have this collective belief that these are ideas that should be accomplished for the students … regardless of if I get elected or not.”

 If elected, Morrow intends to institute a new, more affordable meal plan in conjunction with the four restaurants housed in the ASUC Student Union. He also plans to create a DeCal class for students to discuss issues pertinent to college life and hopes to support student innovation through a social impact design-a-thon that would bring students from different academic circles together.

Morrow aspires to carry on an institutional legacy of more than a hundred years of student service by the ASUC. He keeps a Blue and Gold Yearbook from 1887 — the year of ASUC’s establishment — as a reminder of that legacy.

“I’m not driven by an ideology or a specific purpose — what I’m driven by is the people that I’ve come to appreciate on this campus,” Morrow said.

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.